Campbell County animal control board meets for first time

Campbell County animal control board meets for first time since shelter closure

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It was the first meeting of the board since the county's animal shelter was shut down after workers alleged that Crumley was not giving animals enough sedative during euthanasia. It was the first meeting of the board since the county's animal shelter was shut down after workers alleged that Crumley was not giving animals enough sedative during euthanasia.
The chairman of the board, Mike Garret, said Crumley's experience makes her a valuable member of the committee. The chairman of the board, Mike Garret, said Crumley's experience makes her a valuable member of the committee.
"I would have liked to see it open two months ago. But there are only three employees and they're operating on a shoestring budget and we can't simply hire three more people," Hatmaker said. "I would have liked to see it open two months ago. But there are only three employees and they're operating on a shoestring budget and we can't simply hire three more people," Hatmaker said.
"The county is taking tax payer money and setting it aside for the use of the shelter yet the shelter is not open, that is a huge problem," White said. "The county is taking tax payer money and setting it aside for the use of the shelter yet the shelter is not open, that is a huge problem," White said.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

LaFOLLETTE (WATE) - Members of the Animal Control Advisory Board in Campbell County met for the first time Tuesday night since closing the county's only shelter amid scandal.

The county's only animal shelter closed two months ago and is now under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

It was shut down after shelter workers alleged that the director, Betty Crumley, was not giving animals enough sedative during euthanasia.

Tuesday's meeting was not about reinstating Crumley or reopening the shelter because the animal control advisory board does not have that power.

That power lies in the hands of county Mayor William Baird, who insists he will do nothing until TBI completes the investigation.

Crumley sat at the table as eight board members discussed the current state of animal control in the county.

The board did not discuss allegations against her or the operation of the shelter. Members made a point to the 20 people in attendance that they had no power to hire or fire anyone.

"We didn't make the decision to close the animal shelter, and if 15 of us voted to open it back up, we cant open it. It's solely on the mayor. He is in charge of that department. We have no authority," said Tom Hatmaker, Animal Control Advisory board member and county commissioner.

Hatmaker said their hands are tied.

"I would have liked to see it open two months ago, but there are only three employees and they're operating on a shoestring budget, and we can't simply hire three more people," Hatmaker said.

At the moment Betty Crumley and two other employees are on paid administrative leave.

Crumley appeared at Tuesday's meeting as a non-voting member of the board.

Board Chairman Mike Garret said Crumley's experience makes her a valuable member of the committee.

"She is the best source of that information because she ran the shelter," Garret said.

But some in the crowd were surprised she was there.

"We have the director of the shelter on the board, and personally, I think it's a conflict of interest," said Michelle White, a member of Friends of Campbell County Animals.

FCCA is one of the rescue groups that is taking over while the shelter is closed, spending thousands of dollars of personal money.

"The county is taking taxpayer money and setting it aside for the use of the shelter, yet the shelter is not open. That is a huge problem," White said.

Mayor Baird says he will not reopen the shelter until the investigation is complete. Many continue to point out the allegations against Crumley's actions are still only allegations.

"Until I hear someone sit down in detail under oath and say what they saw and what went on, then it's basically hearsay," Garret said.

In the meantime, LaFollette Animal Control Director Stan Foust, also a member of the board, has been answering many of the county's calls. He says his workload has doubled.

"In the spring we had all these puppies born and now they are running loose in the county. Has it had an effect on rescue groups? Yes it has, I'm sure they're overwhelmed. Has it had an effect on the residents of Campbell County? Yes it has," said Foust.

He says for the county's sake, the shelter needs to reopen as soon as possible.

"Whatever the outcome, whether Ms. Crumley is guilty or not guilty, we need to get the shelter reopened and put this behind us and get the county taxpayers taken care of," Foust said.

None of that was discussed Tuesday night. Instead, the board went over ordinances on how the shelter should be run and how animal control should operate. 

For many rescue group members in attendance, it's a step in the right direction.

"We are starting at such a low point, that anything is good, but the situation is deplorable, so we need to get this fixed. We need to get that shelter opened. We need these animals taken care of," said Cindy Faller, a volunteer at Blount County Animal Shelter and member of Smokey Mountain Animal Rescue.

The board only got through a fraction of the ordinances. They plan to meet again next month.

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